In this episode, we speak with Dr. Mark Singleton about his journey and career in yoga and academia, his dissertation turned book Yoga Body and its reception 10 years after publication, the "birth" of modern yoga in the 19th and 20th centuries, the contested history of yoga postures (āsana), as well as his current work on the fascinating relationship between yoga and technology. We also discuss his upcoming online course, YS 113 | Yoga's Past, Present, and Future.
Mark Singleton’s research interests lie in the intersection of tradition and modernity in yoga. He was research assistant to Dr. Elizabeth De Michelis at Cambridge University’s Dharam Hinduja Institute of Indic Research in 2002-3, and went on to complete a Ph.D at Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity on the modern history of yoga. He taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses at St. John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico) between 2006 and 2013.
His books include Yoga in the Modern World (Routledge 2008, ed. with Jean Byrne); Yoga Body, The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press 2010); Gurus of Modern Yoga (Oxford University Press 2014, ed. with Ellen Goldberg); and Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics, 2017, with James Mallinson). He has also written numerous articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries on yoga.
His work on the now-concluding 5-year Haṭha Yoga Project focuses primarily on the history of physical practices that were incorporated into or associated with yoga in pre-colonial India. He is involved in the critical editing of three of the project’s core texts (the Yogacintāmaṇi, Haṭhasaṃketacandrikā and Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati). He is currently writing a new monograph on the subject of Yoga and Technology.